How To Make Beef Stew

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Heather says:

Growing up, I thought I hated beef stew. I avoided it at all costs. Then came the day I was on complete bed rest during my first pregnancy. I had just gotten out of the hospital, and my ex-husband’s grandparents were kind enough to bring over dinner. Not knowing the depths of my loathing for stew, they brought over a large pot, enough for several meals. I certainly was not going to be rude, so I took a small serving. Wonder of wonders, I learned it was not beef stew I hated, but Dinty Moore. (Sorry mom and thank you, Nana!)

Learn to make beef stew, a perfect meal for chilly evenings or whenever you need comfort food. Stretch the meal by serving it over rice.

Beef Stew Recipe

  • 1 lb stew beef cut into 1″ or smaller chunks
  • 2 TBSP vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour (you can substitute GF all-purpose flour mix if you eat gluten-free)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups beef broth or stock (you may substitute wine or dark beer for one cup of broth)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minimum) – minced
  • 1 medium onion – diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms – button, portobello, baby portobello, etc. Sliced thickly (OPTIONAL)
  • a healthy pinch of herbs such as rosemary or thyme (season according to your taste)
  • vegetables, like potatoes, turnips, or zucchini cut into chunks (OPTIONAL, use turnps or zucchini when watching carb counts)

Remove as much fat as possible from the beef.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or heavy skillet, if you intend on transferring to a slow cooker.

Toss the beef with the seasoned flour until well coated. Add the beef to the oil and cook until brown, use a spatula to stir and scrape the browning bits of flour from the bottom of the pan. This browned flour will add a lot of flavor to the broth.

Add the diced onion and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, you are looking for the onions to soften and become fragrant. Add one cup of broth (or dark beer or wine) a few splashes at a time to the pan. As you add the liquid, the bits of flour that have been sticking will come loose. Make sure you get all of them before adding the rest of the liquid.

Add your vegetables. I typically add two-three ribs of celery, three largish carrots, and two potatoes. These are all cut into bite-size chunks. Add the garlic and remaining broth. Turn the heat down to low, add any herbs such as rosemary, cover, and simmer, occasionally stirring until the vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beef Stew Notes

  • If you would like to add tomatoes, add them at the very end.
  • If you are looking for a gluten-free version, simply omit the flour and thicken the broth with instant potato flakes or corn starch.
  • A handful or two of frozen vegetables think California blend, is always a nice addition and adds a lower carb variety.
  • Russet potatoes maintain a better texture than Idaho.

2021 Update – the next time I make this, I’m going to take a cue from this technique and use a mirepoix that has had time carmelize and allowed the flavors to develop. 

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20 thoughts on “How To Make Beef Stew”

  1. fresh ground flour?

    Is that supposed to be pepper? At first I was like “where do I get fresh ground flour?” Hehehe.

    Also, I’ve always thought soups/stews were supposed to begin with softening the vegetables up like onion celery and carrots… any particular reason you don’t put those in sooner? (I’m guessing because the beef takes longer to brown.) But I would think you’d want to soften those up before you add the deglazing broth (but I guess if you’re worried about the beef bits burning…) Ok it’s making sense as I talk it out… 🙂

  2. Mmmm, I love a good stew

    The pre-packaged chunks of meat that pass for stewing beef in the stores have been getting pretty expensive in the stores. A nice hunk of chuck roast (which is usually a little less expensive) cut into cubes makes a decent and IMO tastier alternative.

    1/2 tsp fresh ground flour – Do you mean pepper? I’m not sure too many people are grinding their own flour these days
    I like yukon golds in my stew. You definitely don’t want Idahos…they’ll just disintegrate in the cooking process.

  3. JRae – Stews tend to be simmered for a long time, so softening the veggies isn’t really necessary like it is for soups, which don’t cook for as long. they’ll be pretty mushy by the end anyway.

  4. Yes, yes, it was supposed to be pepper. I wrote in a hurry today. 40 lashes for me.

    Yukons are a great choice for potatoes, as well.

    I only buy stew meat when it has been marked to sell that day. Chuck roast does make great stew and is a great tip, thanks Eugene.

  5. I tried Alton Brown’s stew recipe a couple of months ago, and it’s incredible — although, admittedly, a lot of work. He cooks the short ribs in the oven the day before, then cooks the veggies the next day in some of the fat and liquid from the meat, then re-introduces the de-boned meat at the last minute.,,FOOD_9936_37518,00.html

  6. Lois, you simmer it over low heat until the vegetables are fork tender. It’ll be an hour or two depending on the size and thickness of your vegetable pieces.

  7. Well, u don't grind wheat into flour anyhow, it's milled. Kind of like a pepper mill, don't ya know…haha… Anyhow, i'm gonna use your basic home ec. 101 recipe today…thanks

  8. When I am making beef stew, I always add my vegetables 10 minutes before I take the pot out of the fire. This way I am sure of crispy veggies and the softest meat in meals. Although some may prefer softened veggies too, but either way can make you great stewed meals. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Hi Heather, I was looking at this recipe and noticed that you don’t say how long you cook it on the stove or in the slow cooker. How long is it, typically? I thought stew meat and such had to cook for a long time to become tender. I’ve only ever cooked it in the slow cooker.

    • @stacyl cook it 1.5 – 3 hours on the stove, if you’re going to take the long, slow cook route add the vegetables later.

      It’s not the length of the time that matters so much to the tenderness of the beef, rather that the meat is heated slowly so some of the tougher tissue dissolves rather than denatures as can happen when it is cooked quickly. This slow heating process can take a very, very long time to “overcook” the meat which is why it’s fine to have simmering for hours. The vegetables can get mush though, which is why I recommended adding them later if you want to take the long route.

      All the best!

      • @HeatherSolos I made it today and it was excellent–thanks so much! I used one cup of beer, like you suggested, the herbs, a little worcestshire and molasses since I only had chicken broth, and some cajun spice because it just goes with almost anything, and I am certain that this was the best beef stew I’ve ever made. Maybe my substitutions weren’t perfect, but it was good stew all the same. I’m wondering if it would be worse, better, or similar made in the slow cooker. Anyway, thanks for the great recipe.

  10. To Heather and imabug:
    I hope you realize that “Idaho Potatoes” is a marketing brand and not a type of potato. Just like Washington Apples includes Macintosh, Red Delicious, Cameo, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, etc. Idaho potatoes can be Russets, Red, Fingerling, Gold, and others, each with specific species and cooking chemistry. See
    David, former Idaho resident.


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